New station’s power line-up

2013-06-09 10:00

Redi Tlhabi may have said no to a job at Power FM, but the new station boasts a competitive line-up. Charl Blignaut and Ngwako Malatji report

New Gauteng talk station ­PowerFM tried to poach prominent broadcaster Redi Tlhabi from Talk Radio 702, apparently to head up their breakfast show, but she rejected their offer.

Instead, the 6am to 9am slot has been given to heavyweights Lawrence Tlhabane and Siki Mgabadeli.

When Power launches on June 18 it will go head-to-head with Bob Mabena and Kuli Roberts on KayaFM, with John Robbie holding the fort on 702.

Tlhabi will be pitted against former 702 host Eusebius McKaiser, who has joined ­Power.

“They have a great line-up,” said a gracious Tlhabi this week. “Eusebius is brilliant and a profound loss to 702, but the more of us in the same space the better.”

She admitted that listeners may be torn. “From Twitter I am picking up that people are divided – who do we listen to now? The point is that we don’t listen to the same station all day. We don’t even listen to the same show for three hours. People will switch between shows.”

She will not be making any changes to her show. “We have developed a winning formula and there’s no need to interfere with it. We won’t change just because there’s a new kid on the block. The new kid is also going to have to prove himself.”

702 station manager Pheladi Gwangwa confirmed that Power had approached Tlhabi and that she’d thought about it before making a decision.

“The same happened with Eusebius. We talked about it before he resigned,” she said.

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” said Power’s station manager Ferdinand Mabalane, “She is not the only one we approached who is not part of us.”

He dismissed as untrue that Tlhabi was to be given the prized breakfast slot. “We allocated slots to our presenters only about two weeks ago,” he said.

Station boss Given Mkhari this week said Power wanted to bag half a million listeners by the end of the year. “702 is our main competitor, but our presenters will shake the tree across all stations,” said Mabalane.

“Power is not a black 702 nor a talking KayaFM,” said McKaiser. Asked about his slot up against Tlhabi, he said: “I’m flattered. I was on 702 for less than a year and here I am up against a master. I’m a fan and a friend of hers. Having said that, I’m a very competitive person.”

Asked about his new show, McKaiser said: “Radio is about authenticity, so I will be me, critically engaging, but the difference is the format – a new energy, pace and tone.”

He said Power will be “more inclusive”, listening to normal South African conversations.

Some analysts predict it is KayaFM that will take the biggest hit from Power. 702 has registered steady growth, but Kaya’s figures have been in decline. Yet Kaya is unfazed.

“Power is about talk, like 702, and we are 60% music and 40% talk, so we are not really threatened,” said station manager Greg Maloka. Yet Power intends to offer 30% music – albeit mostly at night.

Maloka’s sentiments were echoed by Mabena. “People will be curious and leave, but they will still come back to their station,” he said.

McKaiser said he could learn from Kaya, where T-bose commands the mid-morning slot: “The lesson from T-bose is that people also want to be entertained, and I’m going to try for that mix too.”

MetroFM, meanwhile, has lost stalwart Azania Mosaka to Power. She will be up against Stephen Grootes and Jenny Crwys-Williams on 702.

Although Crwys-Williams is a veteran, it’s likely that younger black listeners will gravitate to Mosaka, who is delighted to be taking up a new challenge. And it’s not just about the money – though she admitted the Power offer “had to be attractive financially”.

“For the past three years or so I’ve been feeling I’ve outgrown where I was,” Mosaka told City Press. “I was wanting to discuss different issues. I want listeners to know another side of me.”

She says her lunchtime show will be pure talk, focusing on lifestyle. She will chat to artists, do profile interviews and look at aspects of history and heritage. “It’s not just about the party life,” she said.

A battle royale hits the current affairs slot at 6pm, with Power’s Chris Vick up against 702’s Bruce Whitfield and Kaya’s John Perlman.

Radio war! Head-to-head on Gauteng’s airwaves

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